Posted : 2012-04-06 18:41
Updated : 2012-04-06 18:41

Google’s surrender

Larry Page
Google CEO and co-founder
Korea’s regulator plans to ask Google to scrap its privacy policy

By Kim Yoo-chul

Korea’s top telecom regulator is moving to join forces with its counterparts in the United States and European Union as part of its pitch to scrap the U.S.-based Internet search giant Google’s new privacy policy.

``We are confident that we will be able to completely scrap Google’s new privacy policy, eventually. In order to achieve the goal, we will fully cooperate with regulators in the United States and EU,’’ said an unnamed official from the Korea Communications Commissions (KCC), asking not to be identified, Friday.

The comments came a day after the KCC announced that Google had acceded to a request by telecommunications regulator to tweak its privacy policy for Korean users.

Top KCC officials have already reached a broad consensus to further push Google to drop its plan as part of a “hidden agenda.”

Google previously issued a statement confirming it will provide additional information to help Korean users better understand its new approach to privacy. The statement is considered a win by the KCC, given Google’s previous stances not to change its policies.

``We have information that the U.S. and EU want the company to hold off implementing the new policy until concerns about its legality are addressed. We need more updates from Google and are positive about further talks with the U.S. company,’’ said another KCC official, requesting anonymity.

The Head of Communications of Google Korea Lois Kim said she was checking updates and reconfirmed the company’s earlier stance that it will respect the law in all countries where it operates.

``We aren’t satisfied with Google’s announced statement because it’s not enough,’’ said the KCC official.

The KCC began an internal investigation into whether the new privacy policy ― new rules that combine a user’s information across its services ― violated local laws in February.

It was believed to be looking to determine whether the new measures violated local data protection and open use of the Internet.

``We believe this is unlawful. The new Google policies have raised concerns in other countries. We are waiting for Google’s answer to the EU’s request to explain the changes,’’ he said.

The KCC is looking at taking legal measures.

``Google wants to soothe concerns in other countries by saying its actions in Korea are due to Korean tech firms including Samsung, LG and Pantech using Google’s open-based Android software in their products. We know the tactic,’’ said the official.

Of vital interest is how Google plans to share information that it collects on users, something that has garnered attention from U.S. lawmakers. Google is expected to answer several questions by April 15.

Google co-founder Larry Page is being asked to give more value to customers by boosting sales on social networking and mobile gadgets. Page has called for the Google management team to overhaul its organization to streamline operations and boost efficiency.

For Page, Korea is the nation that Google shouldn’t lose.

It’s also rare for Google to consistently show its nervousness about responses to its new policy in Korea. But it’s all about ``leadership-related’’ matters, according to officials who are knowledgeable in Google-related issues.

``Page needs to show that he is doing well. Upsetting Koreans is not the scenario that Google want at this time. That’s why the search giant is conceding,’’ said one official.

Korea is a must for Google as the country is the home of the world’s biggest smartphone maker Samsung, as well as LG Electronics and Pantech. Also, Google is partnering with the nation’s telecommunication companies SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus in various ``profitable projects.’’

More than anything else, Samsung and LG ― the world’s top two biggest TV makers ― are also heavily investing for Google-powered Internet-enabled televisions and this is also vital for Google to raise revenue from selling advertisements.
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